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By any number of definitions and despite legal and regulatory uncertainty, the nonprofit sector in China is growing rapidly. There are over half a million registered nonprofits in China, with millions more grassroots organizations operating outside the formal legal regime. Continuing growth in the sector adds urgency to questions about the role of civil society in China, organizational governance, the parallel growth of Chinese philanthropy, and the relationship between grassroots nonprofits and larger government-organized NGOs.
The Nonprofits in China Program focuses on the key challenges facing the growing Chinese social sector. We work to leverage Harvard’s resources to convene scholars and practitioners in Chinese nonprofits, and to catalyze practical solutions and academic research on subjects related to nonprofits in China.
On campus, the Program is facilitating the convening of a Harvard conference on nonprofits in China, in which small panels of faculty from Harvard and other universities will discuss specific dimensions of the nonprofit sector in China. This conference will lay the foundation for developing a course on Chinese Civil Society in future academic semesters.
In China, the Program is engaged in joint research projects, executive training activities, and academic exchanges. It is also collaborating in the development of two new nonprofit support initiatives: The China Foundation Center, and the One Foundation Philanthropic Research Institute at Beijing Normal University. Both represent Chinese responses to the nation’s need for greater coherence in the sector, greater discipline in nonprofit management, and greater rigor in the theories and strategies that guide organizations in the sector.
For the international development community, the Program works with international foundations in learning the landscape of China’s nonprofit sector, and developing aid strategies and evaluation plans in response to the needs of and changing environment for China’s nonprofits.
The Nonprofits in China Program work on these questions is guided by an Advisory Committee. Program Manager Xing Hu, along with the Committee, has engaged dozens of scholars, practitioners, and alums working to strengthen the nonprofit sector in China and solve its unique puzzles.